Woody Allen, one of America’s most prolific directors, takes his neurotic sensibilities and sort of turns them on their head as he takes a cinematic wander around Paris in the aptly named Midnight in Paris.
Playing the obligatory Woody Allen-like role (well somebody’s still got to…) is Owen Wilson (a strangely perfecting casting choice), playing “hack” screenwriter turned struggling novelist Gil who visits the titular city with his fiancé (a cute-as-ever Rachel McAdams). Once there he falls in love with the city and opts out of going wining, dining and dancing all the time with his fiancé and her friends (including “pedantic” Paul, played brilliantly by Michael Sheen) but instead taking in the atmosphere of Paris after midnight. It would be a spoiler to say anything more plot-specific that but needless to say Gil finds inspiration in ways he never imagined.
Allen somehow manages to take one of the world’s most beautiful and charming cities and makes it even more enchanting. Aside from his terrific dialogue and the wonderfully realised characters, it’s the visuals that make the film stand out. Allen allows us to drink in the city and all that it has to offer without feeling like it’s getting in the way of the plot or the dialogue, finding inventive ways to celebrate culture and history.
The key to enjoying Midnight in Paris is to throw caution to the wind and just go with it. Allen is setting up perhaps one of his boldest plot structures in quite some time (although he’s not exactly known for going beyond dialogue, not that’s necessarily a bad thing). If you have a problem with the main route the film goes down then you’re not going to be anymore convinced as the film goes on.
However, if you are willing to invest in the outlandish container for Allen’s trademark charming, insightful, and truthful dialogue then Midnight in Paris is unmissable. Sure it’s a little too heavily on the “glass is half full” side of things and Allen doesn’t quite seem to know how to wrap up all that he’s laid out, but for fans it’s a melting pot of what makes his films – his good films at any rate – so rewarding to watch. An utter joy.